OFFICIAL BLOGHER '10 LIVEBLOG: Creating Tangible Social Change

BlogHer Original Post

MELISSA: Okay, the time has come. The post-lunch food coma, we’re gonna plow through that.

My name is MELISSA SILVERSTEIN, I’m the moderator of this panel, I blog at WomenandHollywood.com. This is a great group to have a conversation about social change and blogging.

Beth is on that end, she’s from Fake Plastic Fish, Gina McCauley from What About Our Daughters and Blogging While Brown, and Stephanie from Blue Star Families. If you want to read their bios, everything is online. We’re going to go right into the conversation.

The first question I put forward to the panel is when you started blogging, did you have any idea that your blog was going to be something that could make change in our culture and what have you learned from that opportunity

BETH: I had absolutely no idea. Back in 2007 I was online and I learned about the problem with plastic in the ocean and I saw a photo of a dead albatross chick that was completely full of plastic bottle caps that I was using in mown life and I thought wow, my actions actually have an impact on creatures I didn’t know existed before that. You know I didn’t know what I could do about global warming but plastic is an issue I can have control over in my own life. I made a blog to keep track of my plastic use, spammed all my friends and family without asking if I could subscribe them, so that was who was reading my blog at first was friends and family. Asked another blogger if he'd link me and he did and that’s how I gained readers.

MEL: Gina McCauley, talk a little bit about social change and blogging.

GINA: I started my blog to be apathetic. I felt guilty about something and I said somebody should start a blog about that and a little voice on my shoulder said you know how to blog. My very first post, What About Our Daughters, I make a list of all the stuff I’m not going to do. I thought I’d do it for 30 days; my parents were my first readers. I was indignant, I felt like I was doing something and looking for someone else I could write a check and then stop. Three months later my blog made the AP Wire. You never know what you’re started. I didn’t know I’d be taking on large corporations.

STEPHANIE: I come from a slightly different perspective. Our blog and online community started from a non-profit. Been blogging since 2006. In 2008 I got together with some other military spouses I know. All the other orgs out there were large and amorphous and over-arching. We wanted to start a non-profit based on changing how our country sees military families. I’m all about social media, so I said wait, we must have a blog, we must have a community. But not much expectation – it turned into something much bigger than we expected. People came to us on our blog and on our Facebook and say what can I do to help. Our lesson is a little bit different – just because something seems overwhelming, you can still do social change in those very basic ways with almost no money.

MEL: Women and Hollywood started because I was sick of not being able to see any movies I wanted to see. I figured I wasn’t the only one so I combined my two passions of women and pop culture. I feel that what I use it for and what other people use it for is to engage their thought process and to understand how they contribute to the market and how their voices are heard and contribute to the market.
So: why is blogging such a great place for social change? How is this medium different than a straight non-profit?

GINA: Blogging is very good for what I like to call open source activism. If you take a lot of people who have the ability to do little things, it can have a massive impact. In fact I think blogging is usually most appropriate for micro-activism. You can put something up that’s a repository for information, your readers can generate their own information. The very first activism I did was a joke. It was me being sarcastic, after the Don Imus thing there was a lot of commentary out of the black community. Hughley went on Jay Leno. He goes on the tonight show and he says oh yeah, Imus was wrong they weren’t hos but they were nappy headed women. Well you didn’t hear Al Sharpton or anyone say anything about Hughley. So I said, let’s have Sharpton watch. How long will it take? So I put up the address and phone number and went off to work. On Day 365 I come home there’s a comment, ‘I called them I spoke to them that’s not the best number, this is what they said and here’s the best number to call!’ A week later we had a statement from Al Sharpton. What you can do on a blog is make a little snowball and then push it down the hill and all your readers jump on it and say I have an even better idea. It’s dynamic and your readers can contribute as well.

MEL: Stephanie, how has your blog medium worked for you?

STEPHANIE: It’s really both a blog and an organization. Blue Star family started as a nonprofit but social media is such a part of what we do you can’t separate one from the other. IAVA and Blue Star family were really the first to engage their communities online. It’s had some really surprising results. Like Gina said, micro-activism has really started to crop up. Example is a program that gives spouses grants for education, licensing, etc. They had overwhelming support for this programming that they reached their funding limit almost immediately, so they cut it off. No warning, nothing. People already enrolled in school had to pay whether or not they had the grant money. So we all started talking about this online, on blogs, on Facebook, on e-mail chains. We really had an overwhelming response. We were able to say, we called our congressmen and we’re going to have a roundtable discussion about this. Within a few weeks the dept. of defense stopped giving their usual lines and said, we’ll reinstate it, if we have to find additional funding from congress we will. It just goes to show that one person can make change.

MEL: Micro-activism is a great term. One of the things I write about a lot is the lack of opportunities for women directors. I track all those films and I also track when film festivals come out with their lists and the population of women directors is always pretty bad. At Cannes last year, there were no women in competition. Now remember the first women in 82 years won a directing Oscar this year. I wrote about that and an org in England picked up on it, started a petition and the BBC started writing about it and a lot of overseas press did too. To build on that, the Toronto film fest just announced their list. All men again. Toronto is the bridge to Oscar. Fall movies come out, these are the movies that get all the play throughout the fall. Again, no women. Then two days later, they released their list of women documentarians. They made a point of saying, there are a lot of women this year! 9 out of 25. But the fact that they actually talked about it means that people are finally starting to understand it’s unacceptable that they’re not represented.

BETH: Blogging is an amazing way for people who don’t have money or connections to create all kinds of changes. My blog started out as a personal story of me living my life with less plastic. Initially readers were just giving me advice on how to do it better. It was a personal relationship I was looking at my Google stats one day. I’d written a post about changing my Brita filter, and I found out that in Europe Brita recycles the filters but in the U.S. Clorox owned it and wasn’t providing a way to recycle. So I ranted about it on my bog, one post, that was it. Later I’m analyzing stats and I realize all these people are hitting me from how to recycle Brita filters. This is something people want to do. I put out another call to action on my blog. I knew nothing about starting a campaign but I thought, we’ll get a group of kids together and put on a show! So we formed a Yahoo group and people gave input, I created a web site and we used an online petition form, all free, and then I contacted all the bloggers knew. I’d been blogging almost a year, made relationships. That was the key. I don’t think I could’ve done it if it was just me, but because I was connected it just took off. We launched it one day and all these bloggers wrote about it. I made a badge and little blurb they could put on their blog and it really took off because of that. The blog for us is a good way to reach a lot of people but the relationships are so important.

MEL: I’m hearing you say we’re not the hugest bloggers in the world. From what I can tell you do it because you’re passionate and it’s so the power of a niche blog and the power of passion is what fuels these things to the next level. You can’t always tell through analytics or anything the impact you’re having until something hits and you’re like, oh, okay, that’s something’s happening I didn’t expect.

GINA: I have some business cards and they all say different things. One of them says, I can start, stop conversations online, no matter what my page views are. It doesn’t matter. It’s not arrogant. I can do a whole lot with 10 people. Give me 10 people and I can take down anybody. I can go toe to toe with any org, any government entity. I almost cringing as we say “I just…” You are powerful if you have a blog. The world can read what you’re writing. I’m not going to play coy and say when I call for the resignation of the president of the NAACP they’re not going to notice. They will notice and they’ll write about it. Don’t worry about becoming the largest and most powerful. The most powerful thing you could ever do is have relationships with other bloggers. When you release those bombs – you get 23 women bloggers focused on one thing – we created a letter that was on all of our blogs to the NAACP about gang rapists who attacked a woman and her daughter, and we shut their switchboard down for a day. They re-trenched. All it takes is one reporter and it gets on the AP writer. Be honest, authentic, transparent, passionate.

MEL: And be fearless. I get phone calls from Hollywood because no one will talk Mel Gibson and domestic violence. Why isn’t anyone else standing up for these issues? I feel like I have to be the voice, because I want people to know that there are women who are being abused and the industry is sanctioning this. Charlie Sheen, how many times has he been in jail? He’s still the highest paid television star. Not acceptable.

BETH: I just also wanted to say that where I found that the blog was so powerful. The people who were part of this, we all wrote letters to the CEO and board of dir to Clorox, we all got the same form letters. The day after our campaign went up I got an e-mail and phone call from the bran mgr of Brita. They said they’d been following what we were doing and wanted to have a conversation with us about it. I said, we wrote these letters, no one would talk to us. He said, did you expect the CEO of Clorox to talk to you? I said, yes!

MEL: We’ll go around and see if anyone has questions for panelists.
You are?

Question: I am Karen and my blog is Fussy Eater. I’m a social worker by trade. My question is in this era where we can start campaigns or movements, how do you choose which sort of things you want to push? Do you deliberately choose I’m going to take this on and not this?

MEL: Do you decide or issue decide for you?

STEPHANIE: I think it’s both. Sometimes you’re readers come to you and sometimes it’s really obvious. A headline or remarks made on the radio. I think it’s both, you have to go with the flow.

GINA: One thing you have to be careful about, I do not do constant vigilance. It tires your readers out if every week there’s a national emergency. When you speak it needs to matter. Everything can’t be important. My goal is to to get apathetic professional black women. I always say, please use a few of your any time minutes today. When I do ask them to do something, they know it’s important to me and I’ve gone through the time to know this could make a difference. I also don’t do theatrics. I’m a lawyer in my day job, and as lawyers, people commit lots of wrongs but every wrong isn’t actionable. Is it actionable? Is it something my readers can change? Is it suitable for blogging? Blogging isn’t long-term. You can recruit and educate, but long-term doesn’t work as well.

BETH: For three years I’ve been on this, I don’t see it ever ending, really. Specific campaigns I get involved in have to do with what affects me personally. That’s really what I try to do. With the Brita thing, I was a Brita user and had the need to recycle it. And I could see that there was interest there. It wouldn’t be silence, people were interested. And what I knew about Clorox was that they were making efforts to be green. They were promoting Brita and its environmental impact, purchased a green cosmetics line, making green cleaners. I thought this was something that could success. Didn’t see it as us versus Clorox, thought of it more as us showing Clorox that this was something their customers wanted and would use.

GINA: Your biggest ally are people within the corporation. I started out in a kind of antagonistic stance, but once you talk with someone and you can e-mail a brand manager without having to have your readers firebomb someone. I’ll still clown them, but I’ll at least call first. All I want is the result I want. No one has to know I orchestrated it behind the scenes.

MEL: You have to be passionate about the issue, or what you blog about is going to suck. If it sucks you won’t get anyone to do anything. I get e-mails from people saying blog about this, and I think eh. It’s got to be something I can get behind. I don’t really love to write about Botox, but it is a big issue. But I can’t get the passion and fire in it. If I don’t have the fire, it’ll stink.

BETH: People e-mail me and say, do a campaign about this or that. My response is, that’s a great idea, and when you start it, let me know and I’ll help any way I can. You start it!

MEL: The thing I want to bring back to the audience is how much time people spend on this when it’s not your whole day job. Keep in mind to keep yourself healthy in order for you to be a leader in this. You need to rejuvenate yourself and your spirit to be an effective leader.

GINA: On people contacting you for campaigns, you have to be a good vetter. You don’t know people’s agendas. Once you have influence and you’re getting stuff done, you will be approached by people so vet well.

MEL: Next question.

Question: I’m with My Brown Baby. Gina you walk to me through Brick walls every time you write. My question is, how do you deal with people who are against what you have to say? The nay sayers who can get ugly? I blog and I’m an activist. I use my blog posts to make points and often I get way more negative than positive response.

GINA: First of all I’ve built a lot of scar tissue. I remember the first time I took on a Viacom corporation. Their response was to have an employee defame me. I couldn’t blog about it, because my parents read my blog. Which was a blessing, because I couldn’t give them Google juice. When that first happens you’ll get that first negative blowback. Someone writes that first thing it’s like being hit. You’re hurt and you’re limping. I have taken – we’re at the end of the arc, you don’t see us going through – we’ve taken so many body blows. Cried a lot. Almost shut down the blog once, it only takes one button to delete. We haven’t talked about the death threats and the hate that comes with this. You will build up a scar tissue. I’m willing to die for my cause and that was something I had to confront in a tangible way. Once you make that decision, it’s easy. I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt my feelings. But I’m one woman and I’m giving the entire NAACP organization fits.

STEPHANIE: You’d be surprised. Everyone thinks military families community would be light and friendly. And we’re nonpartisan. And even when we’re talking about something that’s just a benefit to military families, the haters will come out. Why do you need this? You have benefits. They ignore the fact that many military families are below the poverty line. There will be those people. If they have a rational argument, engage them. If not, ignore them.

MEL: Now, I can handle the haters, but in the beginning I was very upset. But now I have developed this skin, and come on down, haters.

Question: My name is Jessica, and I have a personal blog, but recently I started working for a big national nonprofit. I’m really excited about the efforts of bloggers. There are environmental orgs and nonprofits that care about the same issues. If I could go back and be an evangelist to nonprofits about what bloggers need to leverage this power, what would you be looking for? How can we create a bridge between bloggers and nonprofits?

BETH: Great question. Make it easy for the bloggers. Create a kit that they can use. Some of us are really into and know a lot about what your cause is. Others who need to be educated need that background, so give us that but also the short schpiel. Give us material we can put on our blog like badges.

MEL: Do your homework. Don’t send something to someone who is not going to write about. I reach out to bloggers, and I get e-mails from people about things I’ll never write about. Don’t waste my time. Never write “Dear Blogger.”

GINA: I’m about to start a web site called Your Publicist Sucks.com. There should be a special place in blogging hell for some publicists. I write a blog about positive images of African American women. Why are you sending me the latest hip hop record?

STEPHANIE: I’m often looking for bloggers to reach out to in the military community and the greater community. The number one thing I’m looking for is someone who is genuine and authentic on their blog. I don’t care if they're an activist. I don’t care about page reads or followers on Twitter. I’m looking for an authentic voice, because that’s what will resonate.

MEL: Building on that, when you send info to a blogger, make it short. Make it easily transferrable to a blog post.

BETH: If we’re interested we’ll ask for more.

MEL: No attachments! We won’t even read it.

GINA: Also, mutual respect. We aren’t your foot soldiers or your employees.

Question: I’m Jennifer from Women’s Voices. What would you suggest as really effective ways to use blogging as a tool of movement building in offline activism? One of the things that’ll effect all of us is net neutrality. Right now we’ve seen discussions with Google potentially selling – anyway. Basically one of the women I work with has used blogging and Twitter and cell phones to get more than three or four hundred people to an FCC hearing in two or three days when they sprung a hearing on the community. That’s one example of community building, but I’d love to hear others. Too often we blog for ourselves, if there are ways to connect broadly?

STEPHANIE: We do this with blue star families a lot. Ultimately we do need volunteers. Because we’re a nonprofit we’re not always fighting a battle. You’ve got to start small, let people take a small step. Maybe it’s commenting on a site, engaging in your community, making a phone call. If you continue to make people want to come back and be passionate about your cause they’ll gradually be more involved. People start out commenting, they come back, give them a bigger step and a bigger step and next thing you know they’re knocking on doors for you. Don’t underestimate the little things. You have to utilize all of your tools and everything to get people to move. Build your community in a small way and that will allow you to write a blog post or tweet and get those people moving.

MEL: Give people things that are small enough to do so they feel like they have done something, they’re effective. Every Friday I send out all women’s movies opening or movies directed by women. I provide people options. People have the info and they can make those decisions themselves. There is no info abut a lot of these movies opening. People can consider where they’ll spend their $12, maybe a woman-directed movie. That builds from week to week.

BETH: My philosophy on my blog is that we have to start with ourselves when it comes to the environment. I don’t think each of us doing our part is enough to reverse the trend, but that’s where we have to start, that’s where we make a vested interest in the issue. I do something on my site where I ask people to collect their plastic waste for a week, take a pic of it and upload it to the site. They’re doing something tangible, not just shopping or buying an alternative. When we did Brita, there was an online petition with 16,000 signatures. Amazing, but it’s also amazing that that is all it took. When you think of all the Brita users, 16,000 is a tiny fraction.

MEL: Don’t they say one person who writes a letter to the NY Times it represents like 50,000 people?

BETH: The other thing we did was asked people to send us their used Brita filters. We got filters from almost every state. I collected them under my dining room table. There’s a little write-up in the NY Times showing all my filters stashed there. And believe me, they get really funky. We collected 600 filters, which seems like a small number, but when you consider they last three months people had to pack them up and pay for their own shipping, it’s a lot.

Question: Annie from PhD in parenting. I work closely with about five nonprofit orgs in terms of my activism. What I’ve found helps really well is cross promotion and mutual respect. I have a lot of nonprofits that will put me on their blogroll, retweet me and I do the same for them in return. You said don’t expect bloggers to be your foot soldiers, and I think it’s a mutual relationship. Ask for something but give also.

BETH: I can’t even tell the difference sometimes I have relationships with people at orgs and I don’t feel like it’s an org, it’s a person.

MEL: Twitter?

GINA: I don’t use Twitter for activism, but my readers tweet. On the flipside of that, there’s nothing wrong with remaining small. Nothing wrong with sticking to a specialty that works. I fight air wars. The stuff we tend to do is quick and we move out. If you don’t feel like dealing with the beuracracy that is large activist orgs, there’s no reason you can’t partner with them for specific causes and then move on. Be very careful about shackling yourself to someone for anything. Don’t think well, all we do is email petitions. You’re doing something.

Question: I have been working for a few years with a small environmental org, and one of their big campaigns was the safe cleaning products initiative. They started out just sending letters and got return to senders, basically they were ignored. Then after some media coverage, getting in the NY times, LA times, they got members to write in and say this is important to me, please remove these products. And they started seeing results. They asked their members, do you think your actions made a difference? Some of them said no. What they did actually did create change but they had a problem relating those successes back to their activists. It’s hard to tell bloggers, hey we’ve had these successes and have that actually be a story. It seems bloggers are sometimes more interested in posting on controversy or action-oriented things.

GINA: Who was surveyed?

Q: The members who did the work. My question is, how should bloggers relate successes to the audiences?

STEPHANIE: You have to look at something more than just blogs. We use Facebook a lot for this very reason. There are a lot people on FB who aren’t in other communities at all. You can reach a much broader audience sometimes with an FB fan page. Or you have an online newsletter, so they hear about the changes they’re actually making.

GINA: I only engage my audience when I think they can make a difference and I’m the chief evangelist. If they don’t think what they did was important, then I failed on my part. I don’t know that it translates well to blog readers, who are engaged anyway.

MEL : People get info in different places. I have people who only go to the FB fan page, which is updated by RSS page. But there are people who only comment there, or people who only read the Twitter feed. You have to find the right place to engage with people where they want to engage with you.

Question: I love what you guys were saying about criticism and think skin. I’ve taken on corporations and had to deal with critiques from corps and readers. I’m wondering, you said, I laughed, I cried, I developed thick skin. Could you talk about more concrete ways to deal with that? Talking to friends, venting, blogging, how did you do it? What are ways to manage those feelings?

GINA: It’s a process. The only people who understand what it’s like to be an activist bloggers are activist bloggers. I don’t want o put that on my mom and dad, and my friends don’t get it. They don’t understand an IP address. My fellow women bloggers were big.

BETH: For me it’s the support of my community of readers. I get much more positive feedback than negative, but those few comments that are negative really get to you. I really try to focus on the people I am reaching and how we’re helping each other.

STEPHANIE: Some of it’s girl shit.

GINA: I don’t engage with people on platforms I don’t control. I don’t go over to another blog and respond because I can’t control. If I want to respond, I do it on my own ground.

MEL: Delete comments?

GINA: I used to not, but I do now. My philosophy is she who pays the hosting fee makes the rules. That blog is my living room. You are free to come over for a dinner party but if you start talking about my drapes, you got to go. You hate me personally, you got to go. You don’t have to agree with me, I anticipated someone wouldn’t, but there’s a boundary. Once you cross it, you got to go.

STEPHANIE: Make sure those boundaries are clear ahead of time and then enforce them uniformly. You can’t just pick and choose people, you have to be careful about that.

BETH: I don’t post a commenting policy I just expect everyone to be civil. I never delete comments because someone disagrees, but if someone calls me a Bitch, I’m going to delete.

GINA: If your comment has my name in it, it’s probably going to go. Write about the post or keep moving.

Question: I’m Molly. My question is what do you do when your cause is so dear to your heart it mostly has to do with funding. Mostly when we’ve found a child a home we just need the money to get them home. I don’t want to constantly ask for money.

STEPHANIE: It’s a fine line. You have to be careful not to turn people off. At the same time it’s a little easier for me and Blue Star families, they know we’re a nonprofit and we have programs people benefit from and they know there’s a cost associated with that. Military families are kind of a hot topic right now so we’re lucky in that way, but we do have to be careful when we’re engaging our members in fundraising through online or print mail, because if you do it too often people will get turned off and they will stop listening to you. It’s a fine line. Start small and figure out exactly where that line is. I wish I could say do this and don’t do that, but it depends on you and your audience. It’s something that’s really squishy.

MEL: People online are kind of used to getting their stuff for free. It’s very difficult to turn things into cash or support, but I see blogs who are able to fund trips to Cannes.

GINA: My blog audience paid for me to cover the DNC, and that was like $5K. I don’t ask my audience for much very often, so not asking is one tip. I use chip-in widgets, so part of it is almost like Twitter, someone gave $25 and I want to be a part of that. I use things where they can visually see their progress when we’re fundraising.

STEPHANIE: At the same tie it can be really easy online you just have to be careful about doing it too often. Causes on Facebook – I tried that a year ago thinking why not, got a couple of thousand dollars. Just think if every member of our org on FB did that. There are other things you could think of using that don’t blast everyone but involve them in fundraising.

MEL: What have you learned about yourselves?

BETH: I learned that I’m here for a reason, and I don’t mean that in a metaphysical way, but I can be effective. I can be heard and I can take on something, work on it and see it through. You just never know what’s going to happen. In those moments when I felt down, with the Brita thing, this’ll never work, how long will it take, we could bail and I’d look like an idiot. And then something great would happen, an org would send it to all its members. It was up and down, and I learned that’s life. I can handle it.

GINA: I’m still learning. I make mistakes. I’ll probably make one this week or during this panel. The big thing is I can measure the difference between Gina at 22 and Gina at 32. If it existed when I was much younger I probably wouldn’t be blogging. When I was younger I cared a lot about what other people think. When you blog you cannot care what other people think. There’s been a maturation process and it’s made me understand the importance of being a good steward of resources. You can succeed on a grand scale or face plant in front of the world, but being a good steward is the biggest lesson.

STEPHANIE: When I started blogging I really wasn’t fearless. I’m an introvert by nature. I’m also aware, it’s hard for me to pick up the phone and call a congressman. But now I don’t care, I just do it. I never saw myself in this position of organizing all these people, in the white house doing interviews, but I think this taught me that I am so much more than I ever imagined.

MEL: For me, it’s taking my ideas and putting them in the blogosphere, they have a real sense of resonance. My ideas can go to the next level, I can do a book. I’m pulling all the interviews I’ve done into an e-book so their voices will be out there. I’ve learned how to expand the voice of women in the entertainment business to another level. It’s not about me.

Question: My name is Hariett, I write on climate change issues. How do you take it beyond your audience? How do you get those people that are out there that you want to reach to try to empower? How do you build community?

BETH: Part of what I do is trying to show people how they can live with less plastic. I feel like there are a lot people who are starting to hate how much plastic there is but they don’t know what to do, so they come to my blog to find out what to do. So I’m not really trying to reach anyone that’s not converted.

GINA: I’m a choir director, I am preaching to my choir.

STEPHANIE: I’m trying to make you my choir, actually. We talked about media and how that can help you and yes of course you use Facebook and Twitter, you get the widest audience possible but when you do that you reach the mainstream media which means you can reach people who aren’t really plugged in online, which they are out there, even in 2010. For instance, if I wanted to reach my grandfather, and we have a burning issue that we need to deal with right away, we use all of our resources. We contacted the press as well, but the first thing we did was online and the mainstream media tapped into that as well and we had calls within 24 hours.

MEL: I get my content hosted in other areas. I ask them to put a paragraph up and link to my site. Sometimes they say no, we won’t link but we’ll cross-post. And maybe I’ll say yes, because if a young woman sees my site and clicks on Women and Hollywood and I see how many page views, 11,000 since yesterday at 5 p.m., I cry at the loss of my page views and their gain, but I know that those people have now seen something feminist about what’s going on in entertainment.

BETH: Another thing about reaching out, I’m not so much trying to get people who haven’t thought about plastic to come, but they come because my readers talk to their friends and families about the issue and get them interested.

Question: I was a paid lobbyist for an abortion rights group and I had my address and photo on a site where people can come and find me. You have to draw a line in the sand and know that you are morally right and that you will not back down from your beliefs, the end. When I go to the hill, when I talked to reps against HPV vaccines, I said, you are supporting women dying of cervical cancer, the end. You have to centralize your argument for people. Don’t hide behind, this is a nice idea. All the people in this room are powerful. Have some data and be prepared to back it up. I really admire women in this community who are not afraid to put the stamp of truth and their real names and real faces on an issue.

Question: I was just going to make a quick comment. Amy Oliver from MothersAgainstDebt.com. I bring economics to the kitchen table, not a traditional topic for women. If you have a topic you’re afraid might not resonate, bring it into the home. I put it on your table, on your dinner table. I’m on Facebook and my Facebook ladies are so interactive, they take five minutes after dropping the kids off at school and make a comment.

MEL: So what are you doing next, and what’s the challenge for your blog next?

BETH: The end of the Brita campaign is that Clorox did find a way to get the filters recycled. You can take your filters to Whole Foods, and they’ll collect them and send them to Preserve. If your Whole Foods won’t do it, there’s an address on the Brita web site to send them and how to package them. The water at this conference is being sponsored by Pur, which is P&G, and I don’t think they have a way to recycle their filters, either. So if you go to a water station, ask if they can be recycled. And if not, why not? Brita’s recycling theirs!

Audience: They can be! They do have a procedure.

BETH: Everyone just ask them. And I’m writing a book!

GINA: I’m Gina McCauley, whataboutourdaughters.com, I also have a blog called michelleobamawatch.com. I had to wake up and right a rant this morning about her vacation. I also run the blogging while brown conference. You can follow me @BWBconference. What’s next? Writing a book, you’re just going to have to write a book, even if it’s a collection of your blog posts. There are a whole bunch of people who aren’t online. It’s a great way to memorialize what you’re saying and it’s leaving behind something. Blogs aren’t permanent, I want to memorialize that I was here and this happened so that 20 years from now some young black girl can know that 20 years ago black men and women said this is not okay.

STEPHANIE: I think everyone’s writing a book. We’re putting together a compilation of military family writes. Part of the problem military families are having right now is that we’re fighting two wars. It affects military families not just in having someone deployed, but substance abuse and suicide issues that we haven’t seen since Vietnam, and multiplies. We want to engage the entire public to support these people who are hurting, whether or not you support the wars or our current policies. The web site is bluestarfam.org. We are @BlueStarFamily and my personal site is lawyermama.com.

MEL: Women and Hollywood is producing a film festival with Barnard College next February in New York City, so if you know of anyone with films they want to submit we’re taking submissions until September 1. My twitter is @Melsil and the blog is WomenAndHollywood.com.

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